With the salary cap ceiling set and the Washington Capitals holding significant room to address their offseason needs, General Manager Brian MacLellan has made clear his top priority.

“Defensemen,” he said Friday, in no uncertain terms. Given his expressed hope that Washington would sign “one, maybe two” free agents, the organization has the space to throw a sizable deal at a blue liner.

According to ESPN.com’s Pierre LeBrun, former Penguins defenseman and unrestricted free agent Matt Niskanen is expected to fetch somewhere around $5 million per season for a “term around five or six years for the puck-mover.” Michael Russo of the Star-Tribune wrote “it appears he could get a seven-year deal in some situations,” while mentioning Minnesota is looking to meet with the local this week. Though it’s unclear where the Capitals would stand on offering a contract of that length, or even whether the interest is reciprocal, league sources have indicated the Capitals have at least expressed interest.

The most enticing thing Washington could offer, money and contract length aside, would be the opportunity for Niskanen to reunite with his positional coach, Todd Reirden. Mere hours after Reirden was fired by Pittsburgh amid a sweeping regime change, he was hired up by MacLellan, expected to help improve a unit that’s endured its share of struggles last season. He is expected to work with the defensemen in Washington, both at even strength and on the penalty kill.